Vol. 2 Num. 2
The following is taken from Equal to Serve by Gretchen Gabelein Hull, Baker Books pp. 180-182
My traditionalist friends told me that the order of creation determined that male-female relationships were to be hierarchical, with women subordinate to men, and that certain New Testament passages reinforced this two-tiered structure of society. Although they told me this hierarchy primarily facilitated the decision-making process, it was apparent that I was again being confronted with male supremacy. Equality and mutuality could not exist in male-female relationships if only the male made all the final decisions.
Clearly, they said, woman had been created to be Adam’s helper and therefore his subordinate. But was that so clear? Much has been made of woman as “merely” helper, but any suggestion that the word for “helper” indicates a secondary function is not in keeping with the meaning of the original Bible language. The Hebrew word for “helper, “´ēzer, does not indicate a weak or subordinate person, but someone who is strong. Of all the times the Old Testament uses this word most of these uses refer to God. No´ēzer does not indicate subordination or subservience.
Think of the tension and competition between men and women, single or married that has arisen because of the tragic misconception that the word ´ēzer means a subordinate. Man and woman emerge from a distinctive creative act, in their case alone designed to portray their fellowship and unity, their partnership and mutuality of mission. There was no independence of the one or dependence of the other. In Eden there was no portrayal of dominance or subordination. Of exactly the same substance as man, woman was an equal human being, suitable to be a strong helper. When God took woman from man’s side, she was to be his “completer,” not his competitor.
Yes, men and women are individuals, and yes, they are different sexes. But they are equal human beings, designed to complement and complete each other, as the marriage union demonstrates. Scripture says that when they unite, the two “become one flesh,” not “the two become a hierarchy.” The two now side-by-side should carry out God’s order to multiply and oversee the world together.
History of Some Women In Ministry
by Richard Riss. From the
first century to the present God has used women. This article will be
an eye opener for most of us.
We have had a wonderful response to our call for intercessors, but we believe that there are more of you out there. As the ministry has expanded, it has become increasingly clear that we need a team of intercessors with us! We are looking for those that God has called for this assignment. After going to the website and reading the mission statement, seek the Lord. If God is calling you to minister in this way, please e-mail us at email@example.com. telling us about yourself and why you believe God would have you pray with us and for us. Pray for the mission statement to be manifested in all we say and do. From time to time, Gay Anderson will contact you with specific needs. We’ll leave it to the Lord to show you what we’re missing or what He’d have you tell us.
We have been deeply disturbed as we watched supposedly Christian leaders joining in prayer with those of other religions as though all were equally valid paths to God.
Many people today believe that religion's job is to promote moral and ethical behavior. According to this viewpoint, different religions with their different spirits, names of god or gods, all should be tolerated because these are simply different ways of expressing the same divine and ethical truths. The Bible does not agree with this argument. From the Bible's perspective, there is only one true God. A false god is a demon, and he who follows a false god engages in idolatry and participates in counterfeit worship. This may not be a politically correct viewpoint today, but the Bible focuses on eternal truths and does not try to be a spiritual chameleon. (1)
Having said this, what is our response
as Christians? I believe a letter (see next column) we received from
our friend Mary Shattuck has said it very well
Is there any scriptural basis for the husband serving as priest of the home? If so, where? Have I totally missed it? Or, is this principle birthed in man's traditional mind? If so, and we've got the order in the home mixed up, then that error will carry over into the local church as well.
During a time when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes, the idolatrous Micah committed a sacrilegious act by consecrating a young Levite to become his household priest. (1) This single Old Testament example of a priest in the home has nothing to do with the subject at hand since the only other family members mentioned are his sons, excluding his wife. More importantly, Micah is disobeying God's law. However, it remains the only instance in God's Word that speaks of a priest in the home.
In the New Testament, Peter writes to Gentile Christians about a holy priesthood that offers up spiritual sacrifices as well as a royal priesthood that is a chosen generation and a holy nation - the Lord's own special people. (2) In neither verse does he specify gender. The apostle John writes of Jesus Christ who "made us kings and priests to His God and father" who "shall reign on the earth."(3) John, too, makes no gender distinction. Again, we ask the question "Was the doctrine of the husband as 'priest of the home' spawned out of man-made tradition?”
Certainly, we acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the great High priest over all members of ahousehold. However, some take the major "chain- of-command" scripture in I. Cor. 11:3, which says, "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God," and use it to support the subordination of woman to man which God did not ordain.
Genesis 3:16b (4) is merely the fruit of sin. The root of subordination is found in rabbinical and pagan teaching particularly after the Babylonian captivity, not in the Scriptures. If one believes in the subordination of the Son of God, then no problem exists in assigning woman a subordinate role in the home. However, the truth is that the Son of God is not less than His Father in any way. Indeed, He "did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." (5)
The hierarchal view
supporting male headship that gives man authority over woman is
reinforced by a twisted concept of the meaning of "head," not only in I Cor. 11:3 but also in Ephesians 5:23 as another example. The most
common Greek word for "head" is "kephale." Alvera Michelsen
captures these rarely considered thoughts. Those translators who wrote
the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament,
rarely chose "kephale" when ro'sh carried the idea of
authority, realizing that kephale did not carry the same
"leader" or "superior rank" meaning for "head" as did the Hebrew word
ro'sh. In seven New Testament passages where "head"
is used figuratively, Paul took pains to use different words than "head"
(kephale) when the Hebrew word for head implied "superior to"
or "authority over." Paul didn't use "kephale" when the Hebrew
word for "head," which is "ro'sh," depicted authority but rather
chose the word "archon" for leader or ruler as in Romans 13:3 or
exousia (authority) in Romans 13:1-2. Many Christians have
been taught that "kephale" means authority rather than “source or
beginning or completion.” For a more thorough study of "head," please
refer to Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen's article on our website
Head of the Epistles.”
Actually, the equality of husbands and wives is revealed in verses 15-33. One of the evidences of being "filled with the Spirit" is the "submitting to one another in the fear of God." In v. 22, "submit" or "be subject to" does not appear in the original Greek. It says only "wives to your husbands" and refers to the same kind of mutual submission demanded of all Christians in verse 21. In her book, Equal to Serve, Gretchen Hull points out that in the ancient world, "submit" could also mean "identify with" or "become one with." In that context, Hull notes that the passage then emphasizes the couple's oneness as they identify with each other's interests as they would with Christ's.
Additionally, in Eph. 5:25, Paul told the husbands to love their wives "just as Christ also loved the Church." What? Are women to receive the same grace of God that men receive? The concept of sacrificial self-giving so that a spouse can achieve full potential has been the role that society has traditionally given to the wife. In radical departure, Paul gives it to the husband. (11)
When Paul told the men to
"love their own wives as their own bodies," he followed that statement
with "he who loves his wife loves himself." (v. 28) Paul is telling the
husband to nourish and cherish his wife as he does his own body. These
verses sound the gavel, not on gender inequality as we have been taught,
but on gender equality - equally human, redeemed, and free. As
co-equals and partners in that holy, royal priesthood, both husband and
wife are priests in the home seeking God's will in all family decisions
and His will for their children